LVMH names new CEO at DFS
Benjamin Vuchot will take over as the head of DFS, the LVMH-owned specialist in retailing tax-free luxury products to international travellers, effective from January 1, 2021. Vuchot will succeed Ed Brennan, DFS CEO and chairman of the board of directors.
As a former executive at Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, Vuchot knows the workings of DFS well, especially having worked with the specialist in selective distribution Sephora from 2011 to 2017, in particular as president of North Asia.
However, Vuchot will take office when times are very troubled for the selective distribution sector. DFS, which counts LVMH as its majority shareholder (and the Mari-Cha Group owns 39%of its capital), is grappling with a landslide drop in tourist travel in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The group, which launched its first store in Hong Kong in 1960, now boasts 400 points of sale across the world, including 18 T Gallerias in 13 different countries.
“As I welcome Benjamin to his new role as head of DFS to lead the business into the future, I would like to thank Ed for leading DFS through one of the most complex situations that the business has witnessed in its 60 years of existence,” said Robert Miller, founder of DFS and still a shareholder in the company.
“Throughout this period of uncertainty and change, he defined a clear and stable roadmap for the organisation and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our customers. The board of directors will be happy to continue to benefit from his advice.”
The global context has significantly hampered the selective distribution segment for LVMH, of which DFS (as well as Sephora and Le Bon Marché) is a part. The luxury giant has reported seeing its turnover drop from €7 billion ($8.2 billion) in the first half of 2019 to €4.8 billion in the first half of 2020.
LVMH specified that, concerning DFS, “its two main markets were affected to different degrees during this difficult period. Hong Kong, which saw its market already slow down due to the drop in tourist visits in 2019, felt the impact of the pandemic much more strongly, while in Macao, the closure of the seven DFS stores lasted only two weeks.”
Even though activity appears to be picking up in Asia, international air traffic remains limited and so DFS’s business remains limited as well. The group, after having first set foot in Europe in Venice in 2016, had planned to open at La Samaritaine in Paris in 2020 but has now postponed the French store’s inauguration until spring, 2021. LVMH has, however, found a use for the space until then and will hold its runway show for Louis Vuitton on Tuesday, October 6 at 3pm as part of Paris Fashion Week.
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